Charlie Machan has been awarded his first NSF Grant “Developing Homogeneous Mn Catalyst Systems for the Oxygen Reduction Reaction”.
The reduction of dioxygen (O2) is vital to energy transduction reactions. Cellular respiration uses O2 reduction as a thermodynamic sink and fuel cells use the dioxygen reduction reaction (ORR) to H2O to drive the oxidation of fuels. Essential societal functions are contingent on access to energy: the nature of energy sources and their efficiency are paramount to the development of safe and sustainable long-term energy strategies. The study of ORR processes mediated by molecular species can aid in the development of improved catalytic systems. Homogeneous catalysts are readily isolated, characterized, and quantified experimentally relative to heterogeneous systems. The development of next-generation earth-abundant cathode materials for the ORR requires improvements in our fundamental understanding of O2 conversion, which molecular species are uniquely positioned to provide.